In the heat of the moment

‘Water, rest and shade’ are the three key components U.S Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis, will be focusing on promoting to outdoor workers in the upcoming summer of 2012.   It’s all part of OSHA’s recently launched national outreach initiative to raise awareness over the dangers of working outside in hot weather. 

Every year, heat exhaustion reaches thousands of outdoor workers in industries such as roofing, construction, transportation, utilities, and landscaping, to name a few.  While onsite, what employees may initially discover with simple heat rashes and cramps can often result in severe heat stroke or even fatality. 

Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, says these are workplace hazards that can be easily avoided with simple precautions.  “Anyone who works outside is at risk”, adds Michaels, “Drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas are incredibly important in the hot summer months.”  To add to Read more...

Top 10 essential tips to ensure top-notch training tracking

Gone are the days that monitoring and tracking employee training is a nice to have. Maintaining this information plays a big part in both having visibility into the competency of your employees and in mitigating the corporate risk that can devastate a company if it’s not in place.

And organizations use this information in multiple ways. If you have had any exposure to the ISO set of standards, you’ll know that pretty much every standard outlined by ISO (be it 14001, 9001, 26000, 50001 etc.) includes training as an essential component.  So if you want to be certified or just conform to the standard, you better make sure that your training tracking house is in order.

But it doesn’t stop at ISO standards, look at the regulatory bodies around occupational health and safety, specifically OSHA in the US and WSIB and other agencies in Canada and around the world; not adhering … Read more...

The pros of bottom-up training methodologies

As opposed to a top-down training methodology discussed last week, a bottom-up approach to training management relies on creativity, collaboration and communication, as well as a degree of organizational flexibility and agility. Essentially, under this approach, executive management defines high-level corporate and training goals. Smaller teams are responsible for defining targets that contribute to these goals and configuring training regimens accordingly. Team leads and managers are accountable to their supervisors, but teams themselves are graced with the flexibility to adjust training and procedural approaches on the basis of both their ‘up-close-and-personal’ knowledge of the processes they are exposed to most intimately and regularly, and the fresh insights that accompany new additions to the team who are recently trained or in the midst of training. The net result is teams, departments and the organization at large is able to achieve defined targets and goals more effectively and expeditiously.

In spite …

The cons of top-down training

A training program’s effectiveness is determined by an organization’s chosen methodology for training new and existing employees. The most common and traditional approach to training management is also, on the surface, the most logical: In the traditional “Top-Down” approach, HR representatives, executives and other senior parties within an organization define the content, structure and objectives of training programs while managers and supervisors ensure new and existing employees complete requisite courses and fulfill training requirements.

This approach is, for many reasons, the most immediately appealing to senior management and human resources. Quite sensibly, it allows executive teams to structure the training regimens that, in principle, will endow employees with the skills and knowledge they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. In actuality, while this approach enables an organization to confidently meet regulatory, corporate, or standards-driven (e.g. ISO 9001) training requirements, it does not necessarily improve performance … Read more...

Training and quality: peas in a pod

According to experts, though the connection can seem distant or indirect, proper training has a clear impact on quality, just as it has a clear impact on every aspect of business.

As business process design and ISO 9001 expert Chris Anderson noted in a blog post on the top ten root causes of business problems, poor training is the number one source of business issues. Two decades of business management led Anderson to place poor training ahead of poor methods, poor employee placement and poor engineering and design on the list.

“People don’t make mistakes,” Anderson insists in the post. “Systems make mistakes.”

And just as product and service quality issues arise from systemic deficiencies, employee performance — and its impact on quality — is correlative to the integrity of training management systems.

Training and quality are best thought of as peas in a pod — inseparable elements that should always be … Read more...

Prevention, training central to Ontario OHS reforms

Ontario is poised to dramatically rework how it manages occupational health and safety.

Earlier this month Bill 160 was amended by the province’s standing committee on social policy and is now headed to the provincial legislature for a third reading and vote, meaning it could be law by as early as June. The proposed bill flows from the work of an expert panel formed in the wake of a string of workplace-related deaths across the province.

Focused on training and prevention, some of the bill’s key elements are as follows:

  • Training standards: The bill would call upon the Minister of Labour to set training program standards and ‘approve’ compliant organizations accordingly.
  • Training provider: In addition to minimum standards for training programs, those who administer training would also be required to achieve “approved training provider” status, though those certified under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act would be automatically approved.
  • Prevention

Cultivating curiosity: continuous improvement in training management

Many businesses make the mistake of approaching training as a one-time or ad hoc responsibility: employees are trained when they are hired and rarely, if ever, retrained or trained for new competencies.
Businesses cannot adequately embrace the much sought-after ideal of continual improvement until they incorporate continuous training into their business models.

It is essential to establish a training program that helps every employee realize their potential, and in turn helps the business realize its potential. Such programs should be constantly revisited and always altered due to employee, manager and customer feedback. It should be a continuous process.

One aspect of continuous training should be a program that regularly schedules learning sessions with employees to build, develop and diversify their skills and knowhow as they grow with the company.

No discussion of continuous improvement would be complete without reference to W. Edward Deming, the man responsible for quality control and its most critical mechanism, the Plan-Do-Check-Act Read more...

Economic slumps shouldn’t spell training shortfalls

Unfortunately, in tough economic times, training budgets are often the first to fall.

A recent report by Training magazine illustrated that both training salaries and training budgets took a hit across 2009 and 2010. According to the magazine’s Salary Survey, training salaries fell by about $2,300 on average, and the results of its 2010 Training Industry Report showed that more than 32% of training budgets decreased, while 24% stayed the same. Of the companies that showed budget decreases, 42% reported decreases of between 6% to 15% and 23% of companies reported decreases of more than a whopping 23%.

Another survey by learning management consulting firm Expertus in 2009 confirmed this trend: training budgets plummeted as businesses tried to mitigate the anticipated effects of the economic downturn. According to the survey, which included 84 training professionals across 19 industries, nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents indicated they expected to see … Read more...

Be a safety leader with OSHA VPP recognition

So, you’re meeting the status quo and passing your safety inspections. That’s great, but it’s no reason to let your safety program stagnate. Why not aim a little higher?

While a no-accident policy is definitely a noble goal and achievable in some industries, it is important to set realistic yet demanding goals. OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) is a great way to start.

VPP essentially recognizes worksites that have gone above and beyond in their health and safety efforts by implementing top-of-the-line safety management systems. Sites awarded by the program are considered exemplary leaders in safety performance and are eligible to receive one of three rankings:

  • Star: The highest level of recognition, the Star Program recognizes sites that have achieved injury and illness rates at or below their industry’s average, self-sufficiently control workplace hazards, and boast the most robust, comprehensive safety management programs.
  • Merit: Merit sites are on

Firms face OSHA’s Failure-To-Abate awakening

So you’ve reached a settlement with OSHA. That’s great—but you’re not in the clear until you abate.
That’s what two New York-based firms learned earlier this month after OSHA slapped both companies with fines exceeding $200,000 each under its Failure-To-Abate conditions.
In one case a concrete company was penalized $210,000 for failing to eliminate fall hazards, and in the other a salad preparation company was fined $247,050 for failing to provide fall protection, machine guarding and hazardous energy control for workers at the plant. 
The fines follow OSHA inspections of the concrete company in 2008 and the salad company in 2009 and constitute a clear reminder OSHA is serious about following up on any settlement agreements it reaches with violators.
Failure-To-Abate penalties are severe, resulting in a maximum fine of $7,000 per violation, per day for each day the cited condition is not abated, for up